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Commander-in-Chief, Veterans and Sons op Veterans : 

Forty-three years ago, almost to the month and day, a boat 
steamed into Hampton Roads and headed for the grim walls of 
Fortress Monroe. It was not a passenger boat, yet one passenger 
there was upon that boat whose name will long be remembered 
by the American people. As he stood on deck with folded arms, 
silently gazing at the wide moats and massive walls and steel- 
barred windows, which in a few moments were to shut him out for 
two long years from the world in which he had been so conspicuous 
a figure, this man uttered no word, made no sign to indicate the 
emotion which must have surged within him at that tragic climax 
to his career. His body was conquered, but the spirit, the soul of 
Jefferson Davis was never conquered. On that fateful day in 
May, 1865, although well aware that he was approaching his dun- 
geon, Jefferson Davis held himself as sternly erect as in the days 
of his youth when he stormed the heights of Chapultepec, or as 
later when armies moved at his command and a devoted nation 
followed his lead. 

At the Richmond reunion, a year ago, I visited the Confeder- 
ate Museum in the White House of the Confederacy, the mansion 
occupied by President Davis during the war ; in that Museum is 
the uniform of Lee and the camp outfit of Stonewall Jackson, and 
a thousand other relics of the great stvug-gle and of the men who 
immortalized themselves in that struggle. These relics of Lee and 
Jackson and the other Southern leaders are of pathetic interest to 
the old Confederate veterans ; they were of great interest to me. 
But of even greater interest to me was a copy of the New York 
Herald of a date in May, 1865, which I saw in one of the glass 

■ cases in that museum. In that copy of the Herald was a letter of 
a special correspondent who was on that boat in Hampton Roads, 
and who described the scene as one of intense interest, a scene 
not often witnessed; and, once witnessed, a scene never to be 
forgotten. Such a scene was beheld when Napoleon sought refuge 
on the Bellerophon and was carried captive to St. Helena. And in 
all the world a parallel to Napoleon's pathetic plight after Water- 

• loo was not seen again until Jefferson Davis was carried that May 
day in ? 65 to his prison in Fortress Monroe. 

Napoleon the autocrat and Davis the democrat, poles apart in 
their political aims and ambitions, were not unlike in their political 
fortunes.. Both rose to great power; both fell from power to 

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ome the sport of brutal jailors. And both, declared by their 
floating and vindictive enemies to be buried deep in obliquity and 
oblivion, became years after their martyrdom the recipients of 
such affection and homage as is seldom accorded the sons of men. 
In 1815 the insolent Bourbon king caused the column Vendome, 
surmounted by Napoleon's statue, to be hurled to the ground, and 
the bronze effigy of the fallen emperor to be cast into cannon. 
Even the mention of Napoleon's name was prohibited in France; 
and six years later, when his body was lowered into a lonely grave 
on a barren isle on the other side of the world from the France he 
had loved so well, the Bourbon king heaved a sigh of relief and 
fancied Europe was at last rid of the great soldier's memory. 
But within twenty years from the day Napoleon's body was low- 
ered into that lonely island grave it was removed by command of 
the French nation; a vessel, convoyed by a fleet of warships, bore 
the dead emperor across the seas, and on reaching France he was 
accorded a funeral the like of which is not set down in all the 
annals of history. From the Rhine to the Pyrenees, from the 
Mediterranean to the Atlantic, the people of all France stood with 
bared heads on the day of Napoleon's second funeral. It is said 
that no fewer than six million Frenchmen thronged the banks of 
the Seine from the coast to the capital, eager for a mere glimpse 
of the floating catafalque containing the lifeless body of the re- 
turned exile. On that day the whole tribe of Bourbon kings and 
aristocrats learned that even though dead, Napoleon was greater 
than any of them. 

Not unlike the French emperor in this respect is the history 
of Jefferson Davis. The Herald correspondent who described the 
voyage of the boat that bore the captive president of the Confed- 
eracy to his Fortress dungeon, paused a moment to mention a 
little boy and girl— Mr. Davis' children— who were playing on the 
boat's decks, all unconscious of the dire castastrophe that had 
overwhelmed their father. "Happy children" wrote the corres- 
pondent, "happy because they are too young to know the dis- 
grace, the ignominy that is ever to be their lot simply because 
their father is the arch traitor— Davis. ' ' 

A chance remark by an obscure reporter; but the remark truly 
voiced the general thought of the North in that day and time. 
Davis was no longer powerful. The hand that once had issued 
proclamations to millions of willing followers was now in steel 
manacles. The man who on the battle field in Mexico led a charge 
the equal in desperate valor to the immortal charge of the Light 
Brigade at Balaclava; the man who with the fierce bravery of his 

\ fiery Mississippians, turned defeat into glorious victory; the man 
whose eloquence enthralled and thrilled the greatest legislative 
body in the world, the senate of the United States of America; the 
man whose genius and executive talents, in the words of Glad- 
stone, had created a nation, had set armies in motion, had dotted 
the high seas with cruisers and carried a new country's flag to the 
uttermost ends of the earth— this man was now more powerless 
than the poorest of his fellows. 

The base born felon, convicted of common crime, is given the 
freedom of his cell; but Jefferson Davis, the cultured statesman, 
the man who had been among the world's exalted— an officer in 
the American army, the secretary of war of the United States, a 
senator of the United States, the president of the Confederate 
States— this man was treated worse than the common criminal; he 
was chained and manacled like a wild beast. And the people of 
the North looked on and gloated and jeered and sang "We'll Hang 
Jeff Davis on a Sour Apple Tree." And the N. Y. Herald corres- 
pondent expressed sympathy for the two children playing on the 
boat in Hampton Roads because, forsooth, they were to be bur- 
dened through life with the terrible knowledge that they had 
sprung from the bins of Jefferson Davis. 

Oh nameless, oh obscure, oh long forgotten reporter; if you 
are still in the land of the living, you will have read of the unveil- 
ing of the Davis monument in Richmond, you will have seen there 
the half of a great Nation rendering homage to h*is memory, and 
you will now know that what in 1865 you described as a disgrace 
and a misfortune has long since become to the children of Davis a 
priceless heritage. On the very day that I read that Herald letter 
in the Confederate Museum, 100,000 men and women gathered 
together to listen, with tears in their eyes and lumps in their 
throats, to speeches eulogizing Jefferson Davis; 100,000 men and 
women gathered together to witness the unveiling of a superb 
monument to Jefferson Davis; and on the speaker's stand in front 
of that monument, surrounded and honored by governors of states 
and senators of the United States and by a hundred thousand 
American citizens, sat a daughter of Jefferson Davis. This 
daughter of Davis, who was one of the children who excited the 
Herald's sympathy on that boat in Hampton Roads, is a fair and 
gracious Southern woman, but the honors heaped upon her last 
June were not because of her personal charms, great and many 
though they be. No, Mrs. Hays was honored as few queens are 
honored— and she was honored solely because she is the daughter 
of her father. How little that Herald writer; how little the people 

of the North in 1865 foresaw the future. How wasted the sympa- j 
thy for those two children playing on the deck of that boat in 
Hampton Roads! Disgrace, ignominy their lot because the child- 
ren of Jefferson Davis? Why, that is their proudest boast; their 
chief est claim upon the affections of millions of their countrymen. 
At two o'clock of that day last June, the hour when the Davis 
statue was uncovered, every train on thousands of miles of rail- 
way in the South was stopped, wherever the train happened to be, 
and remained motionless for the space of five minutes as a tribute 
of respect to the great man whose memory was at that moment 
being honored at Richmond. 

My countrymen, this seems to me not only an impressive, but 
a significant incident. It shows that a noble spirit, like a nugget 
of pure gold, may be covered with slander and abuse without im- 
pairing the true worth within. Time, the remedial agent of all 
wounds, of all wrongs, wears the dirt and dust away and the gold 
is still there, pure, unsullied, unstained. In the years following 
the war many a politician arose, who for a brief day was mistaken 
for a statesman; during their day they were followed by a crowd 
of cringing courtiers, by the poor souls ever ready to crook the 
pregnant hinges of the knee that thrift may follow fawning. 
And during their short day these shallow souls took their fling at 
Jefferson Davis. They denounced him as a traitor; they reviled 
him as a monster; they damned him to everlasting oblivion. But 
where are these men today? Their very names are forgotten, 
while the name of Davis is honored by ever increasing millions of 
his countrymen. In a number of Southern states his birthday is 
a legal holiday; in all of the Southern states his memory is revered, 
and the column and statue erected to his memory last June in 
Richmond is surpassed only by the column Vendome in Paris. 

With the solitary exception of the homage paid by the French 
people to the dead body of Napoleon on the occasion of its return 
from St. Helena, I know of no parallel to the post bell urn history 
of Jefferson Davis. Any man who is rich, any man who is power- 
ful can command popular applause, for the world worships success; 
and there are always great masses of men, time servers and 
courtiers, ready to applaud the rich and the powerful in the hope 
of advancing their own material fortunes. No credit to such a 
man to receive the noisy applause of the populace. But the ap- 
plause that is softened, with tears; the applause that springs from 
an overflowing heart to one without position, without wealth, 
without power to reward a friend or punish a foe — ah, my friends, 
when applause of this sort is given, he who receives it does so by 

reason of virtues too great, of qualities too exalted ever to be un- 
derminded by petty spite and malice. The miserable malice of 
the Bourbon king postponed for only a brief day the national 
homage paid the memory of Napoleon; and the ocean of calumny 
poured upon the head of Jefferson Davis has not been able per- 
manently to obscure his mental and moral greatness. No living 
president of the United States, no living emperor, no kaiser or 
king ever received greater homage or more affectionate respect 
than were bestowed upon the name and memory of Jefferson Davis 
last June upon the occasion of the unveiling of his monument in 
the old capital of the Confederacy. 

It has been said that much of the affection and respect be- 
stowed upon Jefferson Davis is because he was singled out and 
made in his person to suffer for the whole South. This is un- 
doubtedly true. A brave people will not willingly permit another 
to suffer for its own deeds. Everyone knows that Davis was as 
guilty- or as innocent — as Stonewall Jackson, as Lee, as Forrest, 
as the other Southern leaders. If Davis was a traitor so were Lee 
and Jackson and Beauregard and Johnston. But these latter were 
not thrown into stone dungeons; they were not chained like wild 
beasts, they were not disfranchised the balance of their lives. 
Each and all of them were restored to citizenship. Many resumed 
the high stations they had held before the war. Some became 
senators, others governors, and many years later, in the Spanish 
war, men who in the "Sixties" had worn the gray were appointed 
by a republican president to lead an army in blue against a for- 
eign foe. 

Of them all Jefferson Davis, solitary and alone, was unpar- 
doned, unforgiven. Not that he sought forgiveness or pardon; on 
the contrary, his intellect forbade acceptance of the doctrine that 
secession was treason; his pride forbade soliciting forgiveness 
when he knew that it was his enemies, not he, who had been in 
the wrong; and his philosophy prevented his repining over the 
splendid insolation to which the malignant hatred of his conquer- 
ors had condemned him. 

It was my good fortune to know Mr. Davis personally; as a 
child I played with his children, particularly with Winnie, the 
Daughter of the Confederacy, who was about my own age and 
my neighbor in Memphis. And 1 a year before Mr. Davis' death I 
had the great pleasure and honor of visiting him for some days at 
his home, Beau voir. That visit was many, many years ago, and I 
was a very young man at that time, but never shall I forget the 
sweetness and gentleness of Mr. Davis, nor the calm philosophy 

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with which he bore his unparalleled misfortunes. Few men fall 
from a higher height than he. The man who today is the head of 
a great nation, the commander in chief at whose bidding half a 
million men lay down or take us their arms — and tomorrow is a 
prisoner chained to the walls of a dungeon— such a man may truly 
claim to have experienced the very extremes of fortune. And such 
a man was Jefferson Davis. But if the vicissitudes of fortune 
soured his temper or weakened his fortitude the world was not 
permitted to know it. As I saw Jefferson Davis at Beau voir the 
year before he died he was a man of lofty mind and exalted char- 
acter, altogether superior to that failing of small men — repining 
over the past, chafing over the inevitable. Surrounded by his 
f amily and his books, Mr. Davis' last years were spent in dignified 
retirement, his philosophy a perfect shield against the slings and 
arrows of the malignant enemies who continued to assail him 
until Death closed his eyes and removed him forever from the 
realm of strife and malice. 

By the grave of one of America's public men stands a rugged 
rock upon which are engraved these words: 

" For him life's fitful fever is ended; the foolish 
wrangle of the forum and the market is over. 
Grass has healed over the scar which was 
made by the descent of his body into the bosom 
of the earth, and the carpet of the little child 
has now become the blanket of the dead." 

My friends, when grass has healed over the scar that will 
some day be made by the descent of my body into the bosom of 
the earth it may be that that blanket of the dead will then become 
the carpet of a child — of my son. When that day comes, when 
my boy stands by my grave, I could ask no greater honor than 
that he should feel as proud of his father's name and memory as 
millions of American men and women feel proud of the name and 
memory of Jefferson Davis. ' Now that the passions of the war 
have happily passed away, let us hope forever, even those who 
still condemn Mr. Davis' political theories freely admit his lofty 
character, his exalted patriotism, his unusual intellectual attain- 
ments. I feel sure many of these former foes, but present friends 
are with us in spirit today, and that they, if here in person 
would join me in this imperfect but heartfelt tribute to that 
statesman, that patriot, that great American — Jefferson Davis, 
the first, last and only president of the Confederate States of